Published on February 17, 2022

One man’s decision to pursue weight-loss surgery saved his life in an unexpected way

In March 2019, Brian Burr, Waconia, decided to make an important change in his life. He knew that the extra weight he was carrying wasn’t healthy and he wanted a full life.

The turning point and decision to pursue weight-loss surgery happened when he saw himself pictured in his daughter’s wedding photos. “I want to be around for my family and grandchildren. Plus I’m 6 feet, five inches tall, and when I was out in public, I would often hear people say things like, ‘Wow, that guy is huge,’” Brian said. He always felt that people were judging him for his size.

Although Brian chose Ridgeview because it’s close to home, he knew he made the right choice when he met Kristyn Baker, bariatric managed care specialist. She made the process to enter the program very easy and helped him move along at a fairly quick pace. She helped Brian navigate insurance and make important decisions about his care.

Each patient sets an individualized weight-loss plan

Prior to surgery, Brian worked with the Ridgeview team to set goals and an expectation to lose a specific amount of weight. Brian felt confident that his plan made sense and that he could achieve his goals. However, his surgery took longer than expected.

During surgery, Jeffrey Baker, MD, bariatric surgeon, discovered scar tissue from a previous surgery that was pushing on Brian’s stomach. “They had to remove the tissue in order to be successful. With the amount of scar tissue removed, Dr. Baker told me it was a contributing factor to my weight. He didn’t know how I would have ever truly felt ‘full’ because of the effects the scar tissue can cause.”

Following surgery, Brian was progressing with the program as planned when he received an unexpected call from Dr. Baker, requesting an in-person appointment.

As is customary, Dr. Baker had sent tissue samples to a pathologist for analysis and cancer had been discovered in Brian’s stomach. Dr. Baker knew it needed to be addressed immediately.

The decision to have weight loss surgery ultimately saved his life

Brian’s cancer was stage I. Had he not chosen bariatric surgery when he did, the stomach cancer likely would not have been detected until it was much more advanced and too late to address.

Brian said the cancer diagnosis placed him in an entirely new mental state, but Dr. Baker helped him find an oncologist and he began treatment, which included additional surgeries. Brian said, “Dr. Baker and Kristyn continued to be very supportive of me—following up on my progress even though they were no longer involved in my primary care. They still cared about me.”

Brian continues to work with Ridgeview’s bariatric team

“Dr. Baker continues to monitor my nutritional intake, weight loss, muscle loss, and vitamin B and D levels,” said Brian. The surgery in August 2020 for his cancer was successful and he is continuing oncology treatment through regular endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures to ensure additional cancerous tissue does not develop.

Brian’s weight is now down more than 200 pounds and he feels healthy. “I still meet with Dr. Baker as he has my continued health interest at heart. The Ridgeview team takes great care of me; I see and feel their commitment to their patients.”

“Making the decision to have weight loss surgery is difficult, but it’s really about improving your quality of life. I can tell you that it has a profound impact on how you feel or view yourself when you look in the mirror, and you never know but it may just save your life,” Brian said.

“It’s important to put your health first. We don’t usually do that because we have other responsibilities that get in the way. For me, I felt like I couldn’t take the time or commit to being away from work, but we need to prioritize our life, health and well-being because our time isn’t infinite,” he said.

Learn more about surgery and get answers to your questions by attending a free informational session. For a complete class schedule or to receive information about an online alternative, visit our page or call 952.442.7820.